Critical Apparatus for this Page
Commentary on the Text
Names and Places on this Page
Unavailable for this Edition
1062 [1047]

K. Hen. 8. The letter of Tunstall and Stokesley to Cardinall Poole.

after, the Lorde so permittyng, when we come to the tyme of Queene Marye. In the meane tyme he remaynyng at Rome, there was directed vnto hym 

Commentary  *  Close

Foxe leaves a great deal out of the chronology and makes it sound as if the Stokesley-Tunstal letter was the first (rather than last) official treatise in the exchanges between Pole and Henry VIII's scholars regarding the royal supremacy issue. Pole had served the king's interests in Paris with regard to the annulment of his marriage to Catherine of Aragon but, sometime after 1531 he'd changed his mind on the issue and decided instead to carry on his scholastic pursuits at Padua (at the king's expense) [for which, see The Works of Thomas Cranmer, Archbishop of Canterbury, Martyr, 1556, 2 vols., ed. by J E Cox (Cambridge, 1844-46), ii, pp.229-31]. Henry left him in peace to about 1535 when enforcement of the royal supremacy necessitated his recall. As the king's cousin and an important man in his own right, Pole could not be allowed to remain silent on the issues (particularly given the recent executions of More and Fisher). To this end, his former student Thomas Starkey (a royal chaplain and propagandist) was to make contact and pursued Pole to return to England with a letter, the writing of which was very much under the direction of Stokesley and Thomas Cromwell [for which, see BL, Cott. MSS. Cleo. E, vi, fols.367rv ]. The full range of divorce and supremacy arguments are spelled out. Pole replied to this on 4 September 1535, in the form of a treatise entitled Pro Ecclesiasticae Unitatis Defensione which arrived in England at the worst possible time - during the Pilgrimage of Grace and Lincolnshire uprisings of 1536. The king established a four man committee to deal with Pole and his treatise - Stokesley, Cromwell, Tunstal and Starkey. Pole's treatise addressed four issues: Richard Sampson's supremacy polemic entitled Oratio quae docet hortatur admonet omnes potissimum Anglos Regiae dignitati cum primis ut obediant (1534), papal supremacy, Anne Boleyn, and Henry's need to perform penance. In the second and most important section, Pole denied Sampson's natural reason arguments as well as the humanist exegesis of the other royal apologists. Although Starkey was to have made the official response, he appealed to Stokesley and Tunstal for drafting and editing advice. His letter was sent on 13 July 1536 [see, BL, Cott. MSS. Cleo. E, vi, fols.379-83v] but proved only a prelude to the Stokesley/Tunstal letter.

[Back to Top]
a certayne Epistle exhortatory by Stokesley Bishop of London, and Tonstal Bishop of Duresme, perswadyng hym to relinquishe and abandon the supremacie of the Pope, and to conforme him selfe to þe religiō of his K. The copie 
Commentary  *  Close

The letter can be found at Public Records Office, State Papers 1/113, fols.4-10r and was published as Letter to Cardinal Pole (London, 1575).

of which his epistle for the reasons and argumentes therein conteyned about the same matter, we thought here not vnworthy to be put in or vnprofitable to be read. The tenour whereof here foloweth.

[Back to Top]
¶ The true copie of a certaine letter, written by Cutbert Tonstal Bishop of Duresme, and Iohn Stokesley Bishop of Londō, to Cardinall Poole, prouyng the Bishop of Rome to haue no special superioritie aboue other Bishoppes.

MarginaliaThis letter was testified by Cuthbert Tonstall to Mathew Archb. of Canterbury and others to be his owne, about 14. dayes before his death. FOr the good wyl that wee haue borne vnto you in tymes past, as long as you continued the kings true subiect, we can not a litle lament & mourne, that you neyther regarding the inestimable kindnes of the kings highnes hertofore shewed vnto you in your bryngyng vp, nor the honor of þe house that you be come of, nor the wealth of the countrey that you were borne in, shoulde so decline from your duetie to your prince, that you should be seduced by fayre wordes & vaine promises of the Bishop of Rome, to wynde with hym, goyng about by all meanes to hym possible, to pull downe and put vnder foote, your naturall Prince and Maister, Marginalia Read his trayterous Oration to the Emperour in his book intituled, De Ecclesiæ Concordiæ, mouing him to seeke the destruction of king Hēry and the whole realme of England. to the destruction of the countrey that hath brought you vp, and for a vayne glorye of a red Hat, to make your self an instrumēt to set forth his malice, who hath, styrred by all meanes that he coulde, all suche Christian Princes as would geue eares vnto hym, to depose the kynges highnes from his kyngdome, and to offer it as a pray to them that should execute his malice, and to styrre if he cold, his subiects agaynst him, in styrring & nourishing rebellions in his realme: Wher the office & duetie of al good Christian men, and namely 

Commentary  *  Close

This is very much a key statement of the treatise-letter as it signalled the bishops' intension to preserve basic Catholic principles along with royal supremacy. It also solves the problem that had plagued loyal Henrician Catholics with the notion that a church could be uniquely particular and local with yet remaining within the wider corps of Christendom through the supra-national nature of priesthood.

[Back to Top]
of vs that be priestes, should be to bryng al commotion to trāquilitie, al trouble to quietnes, al discorde to concorde, and in doyng the contrary, we doo shewe our selues to be but the ministers of Satan, and not of Christ, who ordeyned al vs that be priestes, to vse in al places the legation of peace, and not of discorde.

[Back to Top]

But since that can not be vndone that is done, seconde it is to make amendes, and to folowe the doyng of the prodigal sonne 

Commentary  *  Close

The parable of the prodigal son can be found at Luke 15.11-32. The allusion, of course, is that Pole is wasting his inheritance among the swine of Rome and, should he return the king would welcome him back with open arms and great celebration.

spoken of in the Gospel: MarginaliaLuke. 15. who returned home to his father, and was wel accepted, as no doubt you might be, if you wyll say as he saide in knowledging your follye, and doo as he dyd, in returnyng home agayne from your wandryng abroade in seruice of them, who litle care what come of you, so that their purpose by you be serued. And if you be moued by your conscience, that you can not take the kyng our maister as supreme head of the Churche of Englande, because the Bishop of Rome hath heretofore many yeres vsurped that name vniuersally ouer al the Churche, vnder pretence of the gospel of S. Math. 
Commentary  *  Close

Foxe notes this as Matthew 18 but the quote comes from Matthew 16.18. It is one of the most common foundations of papal authority.

, saying: MarginaliaMath. 18. Thou art Peter, 
Commentary  *  Close

In his treatise Pro Ecclesiasticae Unitatis Defensione, Pole had used the Matthew text to stress the pastoral responsibility of the papacy for the faith of all Christians. In essence, taking a literal view, he had assigned a universal potestas ordinis to Peter and, through him, to his successors, the popes at Rome [see, sigs.xlviirv]. Stokesley and Tunstal focussed instead on the underlying principle of the building of the church upon the rock of strong faith, repeating St Paul's First Epistle to the Corinthians (3.11) recognizing faith in Christ as the true and only foundation. They are not denying that Peter is a key figure, even first among equals, but reflect mediaeval disputes over both his leadership role and whether his authority was to descend to any successor at all.

[Back to Top]
and vpon this rocke I wyl buyld my church:
MarginaliaThe place of Mathew Tues Petrus expounded. Surely that text many of þe most holy & aunciēt expositors, wholy do take to be meant of þe fayth, thē first confessed by the mouth of Peter, vpon which faith, confessing Christ to be þe sonne of God, the church is builded, Christ beyng the very lowest foundation stone, wherupon both the apostles them selues, and also the whole fayth of the Churche of Christ by them preached through the world, is founded and builded, and other foūdation none can be, but that only as S. Paul saith: No other foundation can any man lay, besides that whiche is layde, which is Christ Iesus. Marginalia1. Cor. 3.

[Back to Top]

And where you thinke that the Gospell of Luke 

Commentary  *  Close

Luke 22.32.

proueth the same authoritie of the bishop of Rome, saying: MarginaliaLuke. 22. Peter, I haue prayed for thee, that thy fayth shoulde not fayle: and thou beyng once conuerted, confirme thy brethren. MarginaliaThe place of Luke expounded. Surely þt speaketh 
Commentary  *  Close

The bishops argue this was meant to comfort Peter, and only Peter, after his fall from faith, letting him know that he would return and be a fervent in faith as he usually had been.

only of þe fal of Peter knowē to Christ by hys godly prescience, whereof he gaue hym an ynkeling that after the tyme of hys fal, he should not dispayre, but returne againe and confirme his brethren, as he euer beyng most feruent of them, was woont to doo. The place dooth plainely open it selfe that it can not be otherwise taken, but this to be the very meanyng of it, and not to be spoken but to Peter: For els his successours must first fayle in the fayth, and then conuert, and so confirme their brethren. And where as you thinke that this place of the Gospel of Iohn 
Commentary  *  Close

John 21.17. The stress of the verse is actually Christ's knowledge, not Peter's.

Feede my sheepe, MarginaliaThe place of Iohn 22. expoūded. Marginalia1. Pet. 5. was spoken only to Peter, and that those wordes make hym shepheard ouer al, and aboue al: S. Peter 
Commentary  *  Close

With reference to 1 Peter 5.2-4 the shepherd analogy is considered further and applied to all priests which more fully fits the characteristics of the priesthood the two bishops would like to establish.

hym selfe testifieth the contrary in his Canonical Epistle, wher he saith to al priestes: Feede the flocke of Christ which is among you: Which he bade them doe by the author itie that Christ had put them in, as foloweth: And when the chiefe sheepehard shall appeare, ye shal receiue the incorruptible crowne of eternall glory.

[Back to Top]

The same likewise Saint Paul in the Actes 

Commentary  *  Close

This refers to Acts 20.28. Where Paul writes 'overseers' this is generally interpreted as 'bishops'. Indeed, with regard to the supposed supremacy of Peter, Acts makes it clear that the activities of Paul have taken on a more central role.

, testifieth saying: Geue heede to your selues and to the whole flocke, wherin the holy ghost hath set you to gouerne the church of God. MarginaliaActes. 20. Where, in the original text, the word 
Commentary  *  Close

The two bishops find the key words regere (oversee) and pasce (feed) to have identical implications.

signifying Regere, to gouerne, xxx, is the same that was spokē to Peter, Pasce, Feede, for it signifieth both in the Scripture. And that by these words he was not cōstitute 
Commentary  *  Close

The implication of the statement goes a long way toward underpinning the bishops' point equating Peter with papal power. Peter (although not a Judaizer) tended to preach the gospel message only to Jews, while it remained to Paul to preach to Gentiles.

a shepheard ouer al, it is very playne by the fact of s. Peter, which durst not enterprise much cōuersation among the Gentils, but eschewed it as a thyng vnlawful, and much rather prohibited then commaunded by Gods lawe, vntyl he was admonished by the reuelation of the sheete full of diuers viandes 
Commentary  *  Close

This refers to Acts 10.11-15 & 11.5-11 and is taken as a sign that God wants all men to be saved, not just Jews or Gentiles. The bishops' point being that, while fervent in his faith, Peter had been wrong in his approach until this truth was explained to him. Indeed, Peter does not figure very heavily from this point on, attention has switched to the evangelising efforts of Paul.

[Back to Top]
, mentioned in the Actes of the Apostles: MarginaliaActes. 10 where if Christ by these woordes: Feede my sheepe, had geuen suche an vniuersal gouernance to Peter, then Peter beyng more feruent then other of the apostles to execute Christes commaundement, would of his owne courage haue gone without any such new admonitiō to Cornelius: except peraduēture you would say, þt Peter dyd not vnderstand þe sayde wordes of Christ, for lacke of the light which the latter mē haue obteyned to perceiue, & therby vnderstand the wordes of Christ to Peter, better then Peter hym selfe dyd. And straunge also it were to condemne Peter as an high traytour to his maister, after his ascension: as he in deede were worthy, if his maister had signifyed vnto hym, that the Bishops of Rome, by his dying there 
Commentary  *  Close

The bishops are raising a controversial issue. In the Apocryphal Acts of Peter (said to have been written by John's companion Leucius Charinus), Peter is seen fleeing Rome to avoid execution until he is confronted by a vision of Christ heading into Rome. This is the source of the famous 'Quo Vadis?' phrase. Peter turns back and accepts his martyrdom. Should he really, in his willingness to flee, be considered as Pole and tradition often consider him?

[Back to Top]
, shoulde be heades of all the churche, and he knowyng the same by these woordes, Feede my sheepe, yet notwithstādyng his maisters high legacie & commaundemēt, would flee as he dyd, from Rome, MarginaliaOf this flying away of Peter from Rome read before pag. 34 col. 2. vntyll his maister encoūtryng hym by the way with terrible wordes, caused hym to returne. And because this historie peraduenture can not weigh against an obstinate mynd, to the contrary. What shal we say to the words of S. Ambrose 
Commentary  *  Close

This refers to St Ambrose (c.340-97), one of the four great doctors of the church, and his work on the Holy Spirit entitled 'De Spiritu sancto libri tres ad Gratianum Augustum' (which can be found in Patrologiae cursus completus: series Latina, 221 vols., ed. by J P Migne (Paris, 1844-1903), xvi, pp.731-850).

[Back to Top]
, MarginaliaAs great primacye geuen to S. Paul, as to Peter. declaryng and affirmyng that as great and as ample primacie was geuen to Paul, as to Peter? Vppon these woordes of Paul: He that wrought by Peter. &c. thus he writeth: Petrum solum nominat, & sibi comparat, quia primatum ipse acceperat 
Commentary  *  Close

The quote is taken from 'De Spiritu sancto', book ii, p.808. The bishops draw out the equity argument for Paul and Peter. The Henrician apologist often referred to Ambrose, as his writings could be interpreted against the theory of the church's foundation on one human figure.

ad fundandam Ecclesiam: fe quoque pari modo electum vt primatum habeat in fundandis Ecclesijs Gentium. &c.
That is to say, He nameth Peter only, and compareth hym to hym selfe, because he receyued a primacie to builde a church: and that he in like sort was chosen hym selfe to haue a primacie in buildyng the churches of the Gentiles. And shortly after it foloweth: Of those (that is to say, of the Apostles) which were the chiefest, his gyft, he sayth, was allowed, whither he had receyued of God, so that he was founde woorthy to haue the primacie in preachyng to the Gentiles, as Peter had in preaching to the Iewes. And as he assigned to Peter for his companions, those whiche were of the chiefest men amongst the Apostles, euen so also dyd he take to hym selfe Barnabas, who was ioyned vnto hym by Gods iudgement: and yet dyd he chalenge to hym selfe alone the prerogatiue or primacie whiche God had geuen hym, as to Peter alone it was graunted among the other Apostles. So that the apostles of the Circumcision gaue their handes to the Apostles of the Gentiles, to declare their concorde in felowship, that eyther of thē should know that they had receyued the perfection of the spirite in the preachyng of the Gospel, and so shoulde not neede eyther other in any matter. And shorthy after, saith saint Ambrose, MarginaliaEqualitie of degree amōg the Apostles who durst resist Peter the chiefe Apostle, but an other suche a one, whiche by the confidence of his election might knowe hym selfe to be no lesse, and so might reproue boldly that thing which he incōsiderately had done.

[Back to Top]

This equalitie of dignitie which S. Ambrose affirmeth by scripture to be equally geuen to Peter & Paul, S. Cyprian and S. Hierome 

Commentary  *  Close

This refers to St Cyprian (d.258), who was converted to Christianity late in life, and to St Jerome (c.347-420), who is best known as the translator of the out of its original languages into the Latin edition known as the Vulgate. These church fathers were useful for the parity argument as both recognized Peter and Paul as sectarian leaders (Jews and Gentiles respectively).

[Back to Top]
do extend to all the apostles, Cypriā saying thus 
Commentary  *  Close

This comes from Cyprian's treatise entitled 'On the unity of the church' (which can be found in The Writings of Cyprian, 2 vols., ed. by A Roberts and J Donaldson (Edinburgh, 1882), i, pp.377-98). The quote comes early in the work (pp.380-1).

: Hoc erant vtiq; & cæteri apostoli, quod fuit Petrus, pari consortio præditi, & honoris & potestatis: MarginaliaCyprian. De simplicitate clericorum. Al the rest of the apostles were the same that Peter was, beyng endued with like equalitie of honour and power. And S. Hierome thus: 
Commentary  *  Close

This comes from Jerome's treatise 'Contra Jovinianum' (which can be found in Nicene and Post Nicene Fathers, second series, 14 vols., ed. by Henry R Percival (New York, 1890-1900), vi, pp.346-416. The quote comes early in the work (pp.350-1).

Cuncti Apostoli claues regni cœlorum accipiunt, & ex æquo super eos Ecclesiæ fortitudo fundatur: MarginaliaContra Iouinianum. Al the apostles receyued the keyes of the kingdome of heauen, & vpon them, as indifferently and equally, is þe strength of the Churche grounded and established. Whiche S. Hierome also, as wel in his Commentaries 
Commentary  *  Close

The bishops were making an argument that the primacy of Rome was a human institution without scriptural foundation [see, Public Records Office, State Papers 1/113, fols.5rv]. The references to the treatise of Jerome is to his 'Commentariorum In Epistolam ad Titum (Liber Unus)' (which can be found in Patrologiae cursus completus: series Latina, 221 vols., ed. by J P Migne (Paris, 1844-1903), vii, pp.555-600). The quote comes early in the work (at p.566). The bishops also refer here to a letter of Jerome to Evagrius. This is probably Evagrius of Antioch (an early friend and patron of Jerome) although no specific letter to be found in the edited collections of Jerome epistles. As Evagrius' selection as bishop of Antioch was disputed as unlawful at the time, a letter to his friend on the authority and role of a bishop makes some sense.

[Back to Top]
vppon the Epistle to Tite, as in his epistle to Euagrius, sheweth that these primacies long after Christes ascension, were made by the deuise of men, whiche before by the cōmon agreemēt & consent of the clergie, euerye of the Churches were gouerned, yea the patriarchal Churches.

[Back to Top]

The words of S. Hierome be these: MarginaliaCap. 1. super Titum. Sciant ergo episcopi se magis ex consuetudine, quam dispensationis domi-

nicæ
Go To Modern Page No:  
Click on this link to switch between the Modern pagination for this edition and Foxe's original pagination when searching for a page number. Note that the pagination displayed in the transcription is the modern pagination with Foxe's original pagination in square brackets.
Find:
Type a keyword and then restrict it to a particular edition using the dropdown menu. You can search for single words or phrases. When searching for single words, the search engine automatically imposes a wildcard at the end of the keyword in order to retrieve both whole and part words. For example, a search for "queen" will retrieve "queen", "queene" and "queenes" etc.
in:  
Humanities Research Institute  *  HRI Online  *  Feedback
Version 2.0 © 2011 The University of Sheffield